I’m not breaking news here when I say that the AFC South is the worst division in football.

The main reason, you ask?

Outside of Andrew Luck there are no elite quarterbacks, and for the most part – aside from the Colts – none of the other teams in the division have ever really had one (Okay Titans fans, I’ll give you Steve McNair in the late 90’s/early 2000’s).

Currently, the Titans seem to have something with Marcus Mariota – however recovery pending, that remains to be seen – while the Texans and Jags will be actively looking in the draft to find their next savior (sorry Blake Bortles). Beyond the QB position, there are actually some talented rosters in the division. The Texans are perennial contenders because of their ferocious defense, the Titans have built one of the most dominating offensive lines in football, the Colts high-powered offense is led by one of the league’s most talented quarterbacks, while the Jaguars have spent heavily in free agency over the last two seasons, giving them a well-rounded roster. With ample picks for each team, this draft should provide enough talent for this division to finally collectively rise up from the basement of the NFL.

The AFC South is now on the clock…

Houston Texans

2016 Record: 9-7

2017 Draft Picks: 25, 57, 89, 130, 142, 169, 243

People love to criticize the Texans and say that head coach Bill O’Brien is on the hot seat, but the fact of the matter is that in 2016 they won their fourth division title in the last six years and second consecutive under coach O’Brien. Keep in mind that this has all been accomplished without any semblance of a franchise quarterback. It also has been widely accepted that the Texans defense is top notch and that their offensive weapons are more than worthy of championship consideration, so it is really no secret that their gaping void at QB remains their biggest problem…

Below I have narrowed down the Texans top needs to the following positions in descending order, ranked by importance:

| Quarterback, Offensive Tackle, Edge, Tight End, Guard, Cornerback, Safety, Running Back |

While I love this roster, that doesn’t mean that the Texans can’t improve in plenty of areas. With only seven picks, all of their top eight needs cannot be addressed in this draft – potential trades not withstanding. Having said that, if there were to be only one position addressed this draft, adding an early round quarterback would make the Texans championship contenders. Considering this, in my most recent mock draft, I saddled Houston with quarterback Deshaun Watson with their 25th overall selection in the first round. Watson is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the history of college football, and while it would be a tremendous surprise for him to last all the way to the end of the first round, it isn’t that far fetched considering the limitations that many see in him. Limitations aside, Watson is a quarterback with ample big game experience, who possesses a more than adequate arm and excellent leadership qualities. His ability to extend plays will only serve as a plus behind this less than stellar Texans offensive line. To top it all off, as you will see in the video below, Watson’s A+ ability to throw the back shoulder fade should pair perfectly with Texans star wideout DeAndre Hopkins – another Clemson alum. 

Continuing to play the board, the Texans would be wise to use their second round selection on a position of need, but one with the most value. Based off of this draft’s talent pool, their need at edge rusher is likely the best option in the second round considering the position’s early round sweet spot. Players who I like for Houston to play across from Whitney Mercilus include Tim Williams out of Alabama, Tyus Bowser out of Houston, Jordan Willis out of Kansas State, and Derek Rivers out of Youngstown State. I find Rivers to be a particularly good fit because of A) his ample experience as a standup 3-4 edge player and B) because of his specific pass rushing skillset that should perfectly compliment the run stuffing ability of the other players along Houston’s front seven.

The Texans can go in a variety of ways in the third, as this round is likely to be flush with their positions of need. Tight end would be a good fit, as someone like Jake Butt out of Michigan should be available, however I believe that offensive line is a more pressing issue for this ball club, so taking a player like Western Michigan’s Taylor Moton would be a wise decision. While Moton is a little rough around the edges, he has potential and athleticism out the ears. He projects as a starting right tackle eventually due to his build and prowess in the run game, while his IQ and athleticism should have him serve as a swing guard for this team right off the bat. This third round pick kind of knocks out two birds with one stone due to his positional versatility.

The fourth round is the money round for Houston this year, as they possess two picks within 12 slots of each other. Typically when a team has two picks in one round, they can afford to take a chance with at least one of the picks. Typically by this I mean a team can select a “safe” player and a “project” player, however for the purposes of the Texans in the fourth, I mean that they can take a player of immediate need and a player of “luxury.” The “need” pick in the fourth for Houston would probably be tight end. Based off of round grades, Jordan Leggett out of Clemson would be a good fit for the Texans in the fourth considering his skillset and familiarity with their first round pick – the aforementioned quarterback Deshaun Watson. As for their “luxury” pick, how about a running back? I know they are set with Lamar Miller, but he can’t carry the load all by himself. Ideally Houston would target a goal line back to compliment the finesse style of Miller, so consider players like D’Onta Foreman out of Texas and James Conner out of Pittsburgh potential fits for them in the fourth.

After losing starting defensive backs A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps to free agency this offseason, the Texans couldn’t afford to leave the draft without addressing both positions. With their final two picks, Houston should look to fill those voids with a couple of flyer selections. William Likely is a feisty little corner that should fit their team perfectly in the fifth, while Montae Nicholson’s crazy athleticism and high potential should be a perfect fit with their final selection in the seventh round.

Indianapolis Colts

2016 Record: 8-8

2017 Draft Picks: 15, 46, 80, 121, 137, 144, 158

One could argue new era is upon Indianapolis, as GM Ryan Grigson (2012-2016) has been ousted and Chris Ballard is now in charge. Ballard seems intent on getting younger, both offensively and defensively, as he essentially gave a pink slip to anyone over the age of 30 who had an expendable or expiring contract. Along with this came a slew of young and affordable free agents, mainly on the defensive side, and while his additions were much needed and well received, plenty of work is still left to do in regards to rebuilding this roster. 

Below I have narrowed down the Colts top needs to the following positions in descending order, ranked by importance:

| Guard, Edge, Running Back, Cornerback, Inside Linebacker, Safety |

It’s always tough to project the draft mindset of a first year GM, so while I say the Colts offensive line is their biggest need; I approached their first round selection at the mesh point on the need, value, and impact matrix. That brought me to Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford.

Truth be told, I can’t say enough good things about McCaffrey but I’m going to try to here anyway. He’s an incredible athlete, wildly intelligent, tough, nimble, and explosive. He is a magician in between the tackles, while he has the burst and agility to make a living on the outside. He’s probably the best receiving back I have ever scouted, and his production at the collegiate has rarely been matched. Just the thought of him joining an Andrew Luck led offense is making my football privates tingle. Naysayers will knock his slight frame (5-foot-11, 202 lbs.), but I counter with several other successful NFL backs of the same build – Tiki Barber (5-foot-10, 200 lbs.), Barry Sanders (5-foot-8, 200 lbs.), Marshall Faulk (5-foot-10, 210 lbs.) Jamaal Charles (5-foot-11, 199 lbs.), and Chris Johnson (5-foot-11, 197 lbs.) just to name a few. To say in the least amount of depth, this guy is a franchise altering offensive weapon.

It has long been a problem that that Andrew Luck – arguably the league’s most talented quarterback – has also been the league’s most punished quarterback. In the second round, the Colts must address the offensive line.

While they are lacking depth all along the offensive line, they particularly need starting help at the right guard spot. In the second, their best fit is likely either Dan Feeney out of Indiana – who created massive running lanes for both Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard over the last few seasons – or Dion Dawkins out of Temple – whose collegiate experience at left tackle is likely better suited inside at the NFL level due to his short area quickness and power. Either player should plug and play as the Colts starting right guard from day one, which should only improve the durability of Andrew Luck going forward.

With their remaining picks, the Colts need to address the defensive side of the football. Considering their needs at all three levels, they will likely play it BPA from the third round on.

The only proper Jeopardy! response to Antonio Morrison and Sean Spence is “Who are two starting inside linebackers that I have never heard of?”

My point being is that the Colts need a serious upgrade at that position and the third round is probably the last round in which they can do so. Raekwon McMillan out of Ohio State makes plenty of sense here, as does Florida’s Alex Anzalone – McMillan for his experience and toughness, and Anzalone for his build, versatility, and athleticism.

Another team here with a fourth round “money round,” as the Colts have three fourth round selections in this draft. It is in this round that the Colts must address their edge rusher void and lack of depth in the secondary. Good fits include Alabama’s Tim Williams (edge), Illinois’ Carroll Philips (edge), Minnesota’s Jalen Myrick (cornerback), UCF’s Shaquill Griffin (cornerback), Michigan’s Delano Hill (safety), and Louisiana Tech’s Xavier Woods (safety).

With their final pick, the same positions will likely be addressed that were in the third round and on. I suppose that added offensive line depth should be in play as well. A name to keep in mind in the fifth is USC offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, who has all of the talent in the world but just needs to find a way to mature both on and off the field. With a late round selection, that seems like a risk worth taking.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2016 Record: 3-13

2017 Draft Picks: 4, 35, 68, 110, 148, 187, 222

It’s like one step forward and two steps back for Jacksonville every year, as just when they seem to improve somewhere, another aspect of their game falls apart. Last season they entered the year with one of the most feared aerial attacks and one of the league’s worst defenses. By years end they had one of the best pass defenses and one of the league’s worst offenses. With ample high-profile free agent signings across the board this offseason, coupled with high draft picks, the Jags can hopefully take a giant leap forward towards no longer being one of the league’s doormats.

Below I have narrowed down their top needs to the following positions in descending order, ranked by importance:

| Guard, Offensive Tackle, Edge, Running Back, Quarterback, Cornerback |

After this whirlwind of free agency was all said and done, the Jags actually ended up with one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Having said that, they still need help. Picking so early in the first round, my philosophy is that you don’t necessarily pick for need, but rather transcendent talent. Luckily for the Jags, Jonathan Allen out of Alabama checks both boxes. Don’t get caught up in all of the talent that the Jaguars have added along their defensive line over the last couple of seasons; make no mistake, they still need depth added. Luckily for Jacksonville, while Allen will come in as a day one starter, his versatility will subsequently also add depth. In base sets, I envision Allen as the strong-side defensive end, while newly signed, Calais Campbell, will kick inside having him and Malik Jackson handle the defensive tackle spots. Either Dante Fowler or Yannick Ngakoue will play the “LEO” as the team’s primary edge rusher. With Allen added into the starting lineup as either a strong-side end or three tech defensive tackle, the Jaguars would immediately feature one of the strongest defensive units in football.

In the second round, the Jags would be wise to fill their void at left guard. Just as was in play for the Colts in this round, Dion Dawkins out of Temple or Dan Feeney out of Indiana should be in play.

In the third, I would double down on the offensive line – this time at offensive tackle – mainly because of the uncertain future that comes along with Branden Albert’s recent holdout. Names to consider here include Roderick Johnson out of Florida State, Antonio Garcia out of Troy, and the aforementioned Taylor Moton out of Western Michigan.

Onto the fourth, and it’s time for a developmental quarterback. I have made it clear over the past few weeks that Brad Kaaya is my favorite of the mid-round bunch, however I could see the Jags going in another direction. Josh Dobbs out of Tennessee is the most recent of a long list of this season’s quarterback class to be rocketing up draft boards. While most started this process with Dobbs ranked in the sixth to seventh rounds, I have just recently heard one draft expert mention him as high as the second round. I’ll compromise to the fourth round for his true grade simply because of his off the charts intelligence – widely publicized; Dobbs is an actual rocket scientist – leadership skills, and athleticism. Don’t get it twisted though; this would be a developmental endeavor for the Jags here.

Cornerback actually ended up being the strength of this team last season, as the Jags first pick pick Jalen Ramsey was an immediate impact player and led them to one of the top pass defenses in the league. While the addition of A.J. Bouye is going to make the position an even bigger strength, that doesn’t mean that Jacksonville can’t add some depth. A player like William Likely out of Maryland would give the Jags an excellent slot option in the fifth, while Jeremy Clark out of Michigan or Utah’s Brian Allen would give them an outside developmental project to work on in the sixth given their excellent size and athleticism combos.

In the seventh, I finally have the Jags addressing the running back position. Now, this late in the draft, it is hard to find guys who have both excellent athleticism and clean records off the field, so keep that in mind when I suggest Joe Williams out of Utah. Sure people question his love for football and his overall maturity after he quit the game in his junior season, but the fact of the matter is that in just seven games last season he ran for over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. If you aren’t good at math, that’s an average of over 200 rushing yards per game. Talent like that is just too hard to pass up on in the seventh round. In the video below, you can see Williams thrash a UCLA defense flush with NFL talent for 332 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Tennessee Titans

2016 Record: 9-7

2017 Draft Picks: 5, 18, 83, 100, 124, 164, 214, 236

The combination of Marcus Mariota’s maturation, the upgrades to the offensive line, the addition of both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and a newfound defensive identity gave birth to a new look Tennessee Titans in 2016. They ended up just missing the playoffs by less than a game, and will be looking forward to changing that narrative in 2017.

Below I have narrowed down the Titans top needs to the following positions in descending order, ranked by importance:

| Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Safety, Tight End, Defensive Line, Inside Linebacker |

The Titans have two first round picks this year and I believe that they can fill two of their biggest needs with both picks. At fifth overall I currently have them taking Ohio State’s Malik Hooker – a safety garnering Ed Reed comparisons – however I could also easily see them ending up with top ranked corner Marshon Lattimore – also an Ohio State alum. Both DB’s are transcendent talents and should be worthy of the top-five selection. At 18th overall, I have the Titans taking Washington’s John Ross – the new record holder in the 40-yard dash (4.22). Beyond his blazing workout speed, is an incredibly productive receiver, who would be considered a top-five player if it weren’t for his extensive injury history. The belief is that his health will check out and he should have no problems going forward, so expect Ross and Marcus Mariota to develop a wonderful working relationship for the next decade or so.

Without a cornerback, attention turns to the Titans two third round selections. Depending on which position they decide to address with the fifth overall pick (cornerback or safety) the neglected one will be addressed in the third. For our purposes here though, I will give you options for both scenarios. Cornerbacks to consider in the third include USC’s Adoree Jackson, Washington’s Sidney Jones, and Colorado’s Ahkello Witherspoon. Safeties on the radar include Iowa’s Desmond King, Florida’s Marcus Maye, N.C. State’s Josh Jones, and Utah’s Marcus Williams.

With their second third rounder, I love DeMarcus Walker out of Florida State as a plug and play five technique. He offers incredible second-effort pass rushing talent and is scheme versatile anywhere from the three to the nine technique. Perfect value for a late third rounder.

Blair Brown is a name that continues to jump off the page in the fourth round for linebacker needy teams, as he is smart, athletic, and most importantly – tough as nails. He’s a downhill player, and while undersized for a 3-4 scheme, he should fit in good enough next to Wesley Woodyard as the Titans WILB.

With their final three picks, I fully expect the Titans to address their tight end void and then to double up on one or two of the positions already addressed in this draft. Tight ends that range from any of the final three rounds include Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle, Iowa’s George Kittle, and Toledo’s Michael Roberts.


I am dedicating this section to not necessarily the likeliest of scenarios, however I plan on keeping it as realistic as possible. Essentially I want to give you an idea of what selection could end up being the most fantasy impactful for the 2017 season for each team in the division. It doesn’t have to be someone that I have discussed for the team above, but rather a realistic scenario in which the team picks a player who would be a fantasy ringer for 2017.

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson has Dak Prescott potential if paired with this championship ready Texans roster. He may be more careless with the football than Dak, but his potential for downfield touchdowns may be higher too. He will struggle if asked to carry a team right away, but in Houston a top-notch defense will bail him out, while a potentially elite running game led by Lamar Miller would alleviate the pressure put on him. There is no doubting Watson would start for the Texans in Week 1, so he would be more than worthy of a mid-to-late round fantasy draft selection.

Indianapolis Colts

I laid it out in depth above, and short of writing Christian McCaffrey a love letter, I don’t think I can add much else. He will be one of my favorite fantasy rookies next season, especially if injected into this Colts offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars offense is already pretty much put together, and for the scenario I laid out above, there wouldn’t be any immediate fantasy contributors coming from this draft class. However, if the rumors ended up panning out and the Jags went with Leonard Fournette at fourth overall, then that narrative would certainly be flipped upside down. Rather than explaining, just watch below to understand what the 6-foot-1, 240 lbs. back is capable of.

Tennessee Titans

Simple one here… Grabbing any of the top three wideouts with either of their first two first rounders would provide immediate fantasy impact. In my scenario John Ross would serve as a higher potential DeSean Jackson for Marcus Mariota to throw to for the next decade.